9 Februar 2021

Safer Internet Day in Lithuanian Libraries

Every February, libraries around the world support and take part in the Safer Internet Day campaign - to raise awareness and organise learning opportunities to help young people navigate the internet safely and confidently.

Jolita Steponaitienė, the President of Lithuanian Librarian‘s Association, offers a look at how libraries in Lithuania continue to champion Safer Interent Day initiatives in 2021.

Safer Internet Day has been celebrated in Lithuania since 2006.  The commemoration of the day has become a week-long event aimed at highlighting current digital challenges, and promoting safer use of the internet and digital technologies, especially for children and young people. The global pandemic has further highlighted the importance of the internet and digital technologies in our lives, which is why safe use of them is very important. The conditions of strict quarantine have adjusted the formats of events and offered new opportunities.

The Lithuanian Librarians' Association monitors and welcomes library initiatives, creativity, and ideas on how to make the use of the internet safer, how to spread this knowledge to communities, and how to involve groups experiencing cultural, informational or social exclusion in these activities.

This year, many Lithuanian public libraries have joined the Association  „Window to the Future“ together with the project „Connected Lithuania“,  which is inviting students to form teams to participate in the National Safer Internet Quiz on 8–12  of February and discuss safer online behaviour. But there are also good examples of unique library activities for Safer Internet Week.

One of them is Kaunas County Public Library. As more and more modern technologies become part of the daily lives of all of us, it is becoming commonplace to use a variety of means of communication and forms of technology, not least for people with hearing impairments. And it is not just a means of social communication or independence, it is the daily life of all people, the need to adapt to existing circumstances and to master technology. In order to make relevant and useful information accessible to people experiencing deafness and all residents, Kaunas County Public Library has created as many as 12 video lectures with sign language translation.

The goal of these lectures is to help critically evaluate and analyse information shared through traditional and modern media, to be safer on the Internet, and to build up their skills to create new information and media content themselves. Videos with translations to sign language cover topics relevant  to everyone: „Modern internet and its dark side“, „Consumer rights and their protection in electronic commerce. What is useful to know?“, „Secure e-banking space“, „Fake news and its dissemination“, „Incitement to hatred? Report“, and more.

In cooperation with the translators of the Lithuanian Sign Language Translation Center, the cycle of digital literacy lectures has acquired a new audience – next to the specialist who reads the lecture in his / her field, his / her text is conveyed by charismatic sign language translators. All recordings are available on Kaunas County Public Library‘s YouTube playlist: „Lectures in sign language“.

Safer Internet Week events in Utena A. and M. Miškiniai Library have already become a tradition, but this year is exceptional. After restrictions came into place on the library's activities due to quarantine, it was necessary to think about how to draw public attention to the importance of online security. For this purpose, the library created a plan of virtual events: remote lessons are organised for students of various Utena district schools and visitors to children's day care centres, and adults and families are invited to join such lessons at a specified time.

During the lessons, taught through Zoom, librarians and participants discuss safe behaviour on the Internet, talk about online bullying, explain the steps that need to be taken to ensure a person's safety on social networks. The sessions are interactive and actively engage the participants themselves. To this end, two different levels of quizzes have been developed using the functionalities provided by the Quizizz platform. They are suitable for both children and adults.

The library also actively uses social networks and radio to promote a safer internet:

  • During Safer Internet Week, they consistently and purposefully publish useful tips, relevant links and information about various Safer Internet issues on the social network Facebook.
  • A special radio show is also being held this year. In the „Noise of the Library“ section of the Utena radio show "Stotelė - biblioteka", library staff and computer literacy lecturers will provide advice to the public on how to be safer in the digital world.

Klaipėda County Ieva Simonaitytė Public Library has concentrated its Safer Internet Week activities on its Facebook profile. The library has made a decision not only to use new products for this year's Safer Internet Week, but also previously developed, but very popular educational videos from the project „Connected Lithuania“ and virtual conversations on topics such as „Critically (not) think“, „Sexting: game or crime?“, „Influencer – is it really a dream lifestyle?“, „Today you - tomorrow about you!“.

Conversations with Andrius Tapinas, a very popular journalist in Lithuania, about liars, how to identify them and what their goals are, will also be broadcasted. This library has also prepared a newsletter with links to educational and self – learning materials (on personal data protection, online threats, principles of ethical communication on the Internet, etc.)

Joniškis District Municipality Jonas Avyžius Public Library will organise training sessions for its library branch staff „Let's be safe on the Internet“, discussion for seniors „I am safe on the Internet“, virtual exhibitions „Use Smart Technologies Safely“ and „Be Safe on the Internet“ and virtual discussion for children „Communicate online safely“, which will be attended by students of 5–6 grades.

It is very important for the Lithuanian Librarians' Association to spread the word about a safer internet through libraries, to promote critical thinking, so that our friends and community members would suffer less from bullying and online scammers, deepen their knowledge and share it with others.

Jolita Steponaitienė, President of Lithuanian Librarian‘s Association

Access to information, Digital inclusion, Information literacy, Information technology, Safer Internet Day

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